Jerusalem Stones

By: Meryl Cohen

Jerusalem stone is a name applied to various types of pale limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, common in and around Jerusalem. Jerusalem Stone is a generic term describing the natural stone material coming from areas around the Jordan River in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and from the southern Port of Eilat on the Red Sea to The Galilee and Haifa in the north.

The stones are naturally multicolored, with shades of red, gray, gold, pink, beige and white. If you look closely, you can see the varied colors even within each stone. The term “Jerusalem of Gold” though, comes from the setting sun on the stones as viewed by the many pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem during the Shalosh Regalim. I will never forget my first sighting as I approached the city from Highway 1.

There is actually a municipal law in Jerusalem requiring all buildings be faced with local Jerusalem stone, which distinguishes Jerusalem from all other cities in the world. The ordinance dates back to the British Mandate during the governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs, and was part of a master plan for the city drawn up in 1918.

The most famous Jerusalem Stone is the Kotel (Western Wall) of the Holy Temple. Artistic renderings are abound, so of course, I have added my own renditions. My first piece was men davening at the Kotel which I made on silk. I was fascinated with the antiquity of Jerusalem so I did several pieces called Uncovering the Past made with layered fabric and papers, in a style called bas-relief, all of which were sold. My latest piece is a triptych which can be displayed together or each piece can stand on its own. It is a more abstract rendition done in my style of fabric fusion where I apply hand-dyed silk fabric over my acrylic paint on canvas. I am sure this won’t be my last rendition of the Kotel as I continue to ponder the secrets of the holy stones.

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